Monday, 30 December 2013

Dorset and back!


I know I should be stronger and resist temptation, but when a bird appears on a British coastline which I have never caught up with in the world, and with it showing so well, I had to drive down to Dorset in the pouring rain and howling gale this morning to see it!  

With my crew of slightly less desperate individuals, we arrived at Portland harbour just south of Weymouth as the clouds began to clear and the blue sky appear. We managed to shelter effectively from the still strong winds and scanned the inner harbour for our quarry and after nearly 30 minutes we found him, a Brunnich's Guillemot.  Arguably this is the first mainland bird in the UK that has been available for British birders to see, and it was a real treat to watch it fishing close in to the harbour wall. An excellent supporting cast of other birds also fishing in the same area included a number of Razorbills, a Common Guillemot, a Black Guillemot, a number of Shags and Cormorants, both Black-throated and Great Northern Divers and plenty of Red-breasted Mergansers.

Neil H had completed some research and thanks to him we went in search of other interesting birds nearby. On a flooded sports pitch near Radipole (Weymouth) we located the reported Glossy Ibis which was busily probing for and gobbling up plenty of worms.  In strong sunlight it was possible to appreciate the iridescent greens and bronzes of it's plumage. Just as we were leaving it seems that one of the photographers approached too close and the bird was airborne.

We then took a drive to the east and arrived in the Studland area near Poole.  The bay here attracts wintering birds of interest which has included a Surf Scoter for some time.  A little scanning provided distant views of this bird. The bay also held Great Northern and Black-throated Divers, small numbers of both Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes, Red-breasted Mergansers, Goldeneye, Brent Geese, common waders and even a couple of wintering Sandwich Terns.  A small passerine in gorse bushes showed itself as a fine male Dartford Warbler.  And with daylight dwindling, our short winter birding day in Dorset was over and it was time for the long journey back.  My thanks to Neil H, Jacob Spinks and David Arden for their companionship during the day.

Eleanor stayed in the county where the weather remained poor for much of the day.  Her only birds of note were two 'redhead' Smew at Sywell Country Park.


Neil M

Brunnich's Guillemot


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